SAN ANTONIO – Families are fed up with years of gang violence at a neighborhood park and taking their concerns to the city.
Hundreds of neighbors met Councilman David Medina Monday night as he pledged to set aside more than $100,000 in city funds to pay for upgrades to Benavides Park.
It’s a park where “playing tag” could just as easily mean “tagging benches.”
Neighbors say they’re tired of sidestepping needles in the bathroom and sitting on broken park benches.
"Right now we're on typically what they call the worst side of town,” parkgoer Chrystal Spitalsky says.
She says it’s getting harder to keep her kids out of the shadow of crime.
”There's a lot of gang violence here,” Spitalsky says. “A lot of gang members."
That’s why leaders at St. Timothy’s church are taking an active role in cleaning up crime.
"Right now it's pretty bad,” church leader Jesse Ramos says. “That's why we need to take it over. We need it back. We need it back for our kids."
Neighbors are asking the city for better playground equipment.
"This is seven acres and they have nothing to play with,” Ramos says. "They get more entertained by that tree than the activities out here for them."
He says the park definitely needs to new benches – only two of the 14 are in decent shape.
"We want to have this building knocked down and put an open-air pavilion here,” Ramos says about the park’s restroom.
He says the walls hide a hotbed of crime inside the bathrooms.
"Sometimes there's balloons on the floor,” Ramos says. “You'll find needles, drug paraphernalia."
He says the city’s promised to make improvements so families will be safer at their favorite stomping grounds.
"We need to get our voices heard,” Spitalsky says.